The NBA office and Rockets officials are reviewing a social media video of James Harden at a strip club to determine the date it occurred, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. If it is found to be recent, it could be considered a violation of COVID-19 protocols and Harden may not be allowed to play in tonight’s season opener.
MacMahon adds that the NBA’s health and safety protocols state that “failure or refusal to comply with the protocols may subject players and team staff to disciplinary action by the NBA or his or her team which may include a warning, fine, and/or suspension” (Twitter link). A suspension for Harden would cost him $284,517 per game, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN.
It’s the latest controversy for the former MVP, whose desire to be traded has been the dominant story of Houston’s offseason. Harden was late reporting to camp as images surfaced of him partying in Atlanta and Las Vegas, and a report surfaced Tuesday of tension between Harden and his teammates, including an incident where he reportedly threw a basketball at Jae’Sean Tate.
Harden first issued a trade request during the offseason, indicating that he had lost confidence in the organization’s ability to build a championship contender around him. Since arriving at camp, he has brushed aside questions about a possible deal, but hasn’t relented in his desire to leave the Rockets.
According to reports, Houston hasn’t been able to reach any traction in trade talks with a number of teams. The Heat pulled out of discussions this week and the Nuggets weren’t willing to part with Jamal Murray or Michael Porter Jr.
Marc Stein of The New York Times wrote in his newsletter this week that it has “recently become known” that the Celtics and Raptors have had exploratory talks about Harden, but it’s not clear if Stein is reporting – or confirming – that himself, or referring to other unconfirmed reports.
The Rockets have been steadfast in saying they won’t part with Harden unless they get a young star and a package of draft picks in return. We’ll see if this latest incident affects their asking price.